The present global structure in which an economically unprecedented rise of China is highly institutionalized, fragmented, issue-specific, and is predominated by the US and its allies. Beijing pursues greater global governance proactivity with more assertive agendas and a more realistic and dualistic approach under the current presidencies. As President Xi’s overarching foreign policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) mainly seeks to enhance the connectivity of infrastructure, trade liberalization, and global financial integration. This work attempts to investigate the efficacy of the BRI in serving Beijing’s quest for leadership in global governance. The conclusion is that the initiative has been useful, but more work is required. The study found that it is a crucial stage before rising dominant powers come to assume global leadership.


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), first suggested by President Xi in 2013, has risen in relevance not only for China but also for Asian, Europe, and again beyond states. During the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded in October 2017, the BRI was included in the Party’s constitution and consecrated as one of China’s primary guiding principles in the years to come. China has become more involved in the global governance process by facilitating reform efforts. China has formed a security bloc under its sphere of influence. However, the rise of China has long been discussed by analysts and academics.

It is the developing global governance and world order environment in which China is rising, and the present US administration is behaving deliberately or otherwise, which broadly relates to what marks a weakening hegemon (Gilpin, 1987). Also, recent is China’s increasing assertiveness in defending its domestic interests. China is establishing its realm of control without distancing itself from the foreign regimes in which they have embedded it since its opening in the last century and gaining influence and sway across such systems to attain power (Zhang, 2017). Briefly, China has developed from passive to more active, representing both its rising influence and confidence (Shambaugh, 2013).

This restructuring of the role of China in global governance may be attributed to its discomfort in the framework’s system, even though China still behaves as a status-quo, structure-supporting force, through the functioning of international organizations (Shambaugh, 2013). The BRI, as the most critical foreign policy under President Xi, represents China’s position on global politics and enables Beijing to accomplish the very power it aspires to.

This paper on China and global governance is essential in external policy. To illustration, the conventional global governance system that the US and its partners have built and established is behind the global redeployment of influence. Being the second-largest economy in the world, the acts and global policies of China would have a more substantial effect on the potential growth of global governance. The BRI, brought out by President Xi, has been preceded by creating innovative multilateral bodies and new rules and approaches that may contribute to a shift in the framework of international governance and has drawn a variety of peripheral nations to collaborate with China on this mission. Compared to this complexity, it becomes the White House more inward-looking and withdraws from multilateral agreements and global governance. Under the Trump administration, the US chronologically revoked the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, accused transatlantic partners of unrestricted retirement, and used trade strategy predatory. Faced with the apparent weakening of US dominance in the developing markets, with China at its root, the transition of power relations and the seeking of a new framework for foreign cooperation are the responsibility of the major economic powers (Keohane in Gilpin, 1987).

In China’s rise, both in its ability and capacity to seek more significant leadership, with the decline of US hegemony, an analysis of Beijing’s most significant foreign policy and its related effect on global governance is essential. Various studies have centered on a variety of concerns relevant to the topic. Schweller and Pu (2011) address the nature of the US-China partnership and Chinese search for hegemony in the context, Cooper and Zhang (2018) disagree on the approach of Beijing to engagement with the international organizations, in particular after the 2008 global financial crisis. He (2015) discusses Chinese global governance strategies from the Chinese diplomat. Shambaugh (2013) analyses China’s global governance trajectories from comprehensive points of view; Bhattacharya et al. (2012) reveal the drawback to the current global governance system in terms of addressing foreign infrastructure development needs. Pantucci and Lain (2017) examine the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) under BRI auspices, and Ikenberry and Lim (2017) examine the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and its anti-hegemony outlook. Herrero and Xu (2016) discuss the economic advantage of BRI. Hurley et al. (2019) demonstrates the financial risks of the BRI. Le Corre (2018) looks into Chinese BRI projects in European countries; Eisenman (2018) reveals the consequences for the United States of the BRI. The literature focuses extensively on the study of BRI from a policy perspective, on its outcomes and benefits, and other country-to-country consequences.

Primarily this study addresses the literature gap by systematically discerning as China pursues more significant leadership under the current presidency in the global governance system. In specific, it assesses the role of BRI in supporting China to achieve its potential from a holistic perspective. The analysis puzzle of this work “is BRI an effective tool for China to seek the leadership of global governance?” Qualitative content-based research will systematically reveal BRI dynamics to help China fulfill its perceived role under the government of President Xi. In questioning why China is effective in undertaking leadership, this study puts the assumption that China is yet to be a leader, but aspires to be one, echoes structurally realistic views.

According to Ikenberry and Lim (2017), BRI is one of the structural instruments for China to challenge and encourage fundamental reforms in its current global governance as a rising country as opposed to conventional governance structures governed by Western countries. The present analysis would, therefore, primarily rely on this classification of external innovation aimed at generating structural change, which refers in this case to Beijing’s assumption of leadership in the global system of governance. To do this, a process-tracing methodology will demonstrate the “causal process that occurs in-between a cause (or set of causes) and an outcome and trace each of its constituent parts empirically” (Beach, 2017, p. 5).

According to King et al. (1994) claim, “part of the descriptive task is to infer information about unobserved facts from the facts we have observed” (p. 34). In other terms, the inference is an integral part of descriptive analyses. Although inference involves the quest for observable phenomena, King et al. (1994) further claim that “we must somehow avoid being overwhelmed by the massive cacophony of potential and actual observations about the world” (p. 46). It can be achieved successfully by performing observational experiments focused on theories. It may “guide us to the selection of those facts that are implications of the theory” (King et al., 1994, p. 46). The current study is focused on a set of theories, as each, in its interpretation of international politics, has its interpretative importance (Friedberg, 2005).

Different from previous studies, which analyzed the effect of BRI on specific nations and regions, the objective of this work is to analyze the role of BRI in supporting China to achieve leadership in the global governance framework from a holistic and comprehensive view.

This paper consists of three main sections. The first section discusses the fundamental concepts of global governance with a theoretical justification on global governance and state and another extensive explanation on global governance and power, which are the aspect of a sheer number of non-state actors. Also, global governance and leadership will be further elaborated on the (hegemonic) leadership concept and how it works in the global governance framework. The second section will illustrate the BRI and global governance following the discussion, whether it impacts and/or supplements the current global governance systems and also the perspective from the stakeholders. The last section will come up with a conclusion.

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China and global governance: Leadership through BRI

Author(s):  Bora Ly |Richard Meissner(Reviewing editor)

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Rusdin Tahir

Senior Lecturer [study on leaves] Department of Business Administration Science Faculty of Social and Political Science UNIVERSITY OF PADJADJARAN Jalan Raya Bandung-Sumedang KM 21 Jatinangor 45363, West Java, Indonesia Ph: +62 22 7792647,7796416 Fax: +62 22 7792647 Mobile: +62 81 123 9491; 822 919 356 65 Email:;; Web: Web: Web: Web: Web:

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